5 minutes with Tom Williams

5 minutes with Tom Williams


Tom is the Head of Marketing at Peak Labs. Their app, Peak — Brain Training, is the number one brain training app on mobile and has been downloaded more than 15 million times. Peak has won numerous awards and has been selected by both Apple and Google as one of the best apps available. Tom leads the marketing team, developing a global marketing strategy and overseeing the CRM, Social, PR, Content and Customer Support teams. Before joining Peak he was Head of Marketing at Touchpress. He is also the author of A Mysterious Something in the Light: A Life of Raymond Chandler (Aurum / Chicago Review Press). 


What was the last book you read?
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. It’s a biography of the relationship between Danny Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow) and Amos Tversky. They are the fathers of behavioural economics and this a dive into how psychology and economics came together to explain our decision making.

Which writer would you have loved to have met – and why?
Raymond Chandler! I’d like to know what he thought of my biography of him (A Mysterious Something in the Light). Though I am pretty sure he would have hated the thought of being the subject of one.

You’re stranded on a desert island – what 3 books would you want with you?
Is this like Desert Island discs? Do I have the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare? If so, I’d take Ulysses, because I think I could read that every day for the rest of my life and still find something new; I’d add the Norton Anthology of Poetry for similar reasons; and lastly How To Escape A Desert Island In Three Easy Steps because I’m lazy and I think I’d get a little bored after a few years with just coconuts for company.

Tell us what you/your company does in 20 words or fewer?
Peak is a brain training app. We make games to help challenge your mind.

What is the one thing about your company/business that we need to know?
We’re a digital subscription business and that puts us in an exciting and challenging position. We are continually optimising our offering and our pricing based on a steady stream of insightful data to ensure maximum value for our customers.

What is the single biggest challenge facing the publishing industry right now?
As someone who used to work in publishing, my views might be a little out of date. That said, I think that the biggest challenge is the ownership of audience. For years, publishers’ primary customer was book retailers and now, in a world of easy distribution and online shopping, a direct relationship with the end users of book is essential. The industry is trying to address this but it is a long slow process however I think it’s an important one in the long term.

Which imprints do you most admire – and why?
Allen Lane. They consistently publish books that can change the world. Their list is intellectually stimulating as well as commercial which is a tricky balance to strike.

Does the publishing industry understand technology?
I think the publishing industry thinks it does. I’m not sure that the outside world would agree. Reporting is slow (how is it that royalties are still reported every six months and they take 3 months to process?); adoption of new technology seems slow and doesn’t seem to disrupt the industry significantly (that I can see).

How does social media aid the publishing industry?
It provides direct access to readers. That is invaluable. Though I suspect it is best used by writers to reach their readers rather than by publishing houses.

What is the silliest thing you have on your desk?
I have a cordless drill that has been sitting there for months because I can’t be bothered to take it home. It is useless on my desk because it has no use and, to be honest, it is just at useless at home too.

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